I don’t know much: a guest post from Socrates

Greetings from sunny Athens. Its fantastic to be tapping out my first blog, albeit it may be my only one as I am not too sure about undermining my cult status by actually writing something down. We had personal branding in 399BC as well – its nothing new.

As a break from following the currency crisis and winding up the more apathetic protesters, I was surfing the web on Sunday (I have to say I do like your internets, and wish they were around in my day) and stumbled across a website from the workplace industry that proclaimed that its client services included “thought leadership”. I won’t name and shame as that wouldn’t be fair, but you’ll find the link at the end of this piece.

Considering that this might be another dose of old-fashioned sophistry – and look what happened the last time I took them on – I was nevertheless horrified. How can anyone possibly claim themselves to be a “thought leader”?  Here we go again, I thought.

Anyway it seems the term has only been around since 1994, but I could have had some fun with it with the fragile and vain egos that made me drink the devil’s porridge all those years ago. I have to say it still rankles a bit, but I have moved on.

So as the eternal gadfly in the ointment, let’s consider the vanity of those who laud intellectual prowess upon themselves, and dare to proclaim it. It was very kind of the Oracle of Delphi to tell my mucker Chaerephon that there were none wiser than I, and those gods don’t lie, do they? Well no, even though I was accused of not believing in them. But it is, however, a paradox, as I only know that I know nothing. What marks out a person of wisdom is precisely their understanding of not being wise at all, and the significant extent of their ignorance. Just ask the chap who normally writes on this blog.

As you probably know, I searched widely for those that were wise, but couldn’t find anyone. The most interesting lot were politicians – who claimed wisdom without knowledge – and poets, who made people swoon and gasp but didn’t actually understand the meaning behind their sweeping stanzas. You can ask workessence about that one, too. I won’t push it, he may not ask me back.

My explanation of this is all fairly much as my old student Plato (clever boy, but a tad dull) wrote in Apology, if you want to know more.

If you ever consider – even for a moment – that you are entering a realm in which you might perceive your vagaries and meanderings to be “thought leadership”, remember Soccy’s Law:

It’s not what you know, or who you know that counts.  It’s what you don’t know.


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